Impending NBA All-Star Snubs


In many parts of the country it is now officially cold, and that combined with the league’s announcement that John Legend would be this year’s All-Star halftime performer, as well as All-Star Weekend event tickets going on sale, means that it’s time to start talking about the All-Star Game itself.

One thing that already has become painfully obvious is that there are going to be some epic snubs this year.

There will, for example, be controversy after the starters are announced no matter who ends up winning the fan vote because it is frankly impossible to shoehorn every historic performer into just five roster spots per conference. Based on past voting, it seems extremely likely that Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant will be named starters out west, while LeBron James is the Eastern Conference’s only sure thing.

Outside of those three guys, voting is wide open.

Western Conference

Among West guards, only one of James Harden and Russell Westbrook can be named a starter, and considering both are having not only career seasons, but historically great seasons, that will be a tough pill to swallow for the player who doesn’t tackle the fan vote.

This also means Chris Paul will have a zero percent chance of being voted in as an All-Star starter, which is something he has done nine times in his career, most recently in February of 2016.

Also out West, it seems likely that Kawhi Leonard will be voted in considering his rise to super-stardom this season, but the fifth starter, a big man, could be anybody among Marc Gasol, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Blake Griffin and even Draymond Green.

If every Western Conference player listed above makes the team, that means four guards (Curry, Westbrook, Paul and Harden) will have made the team, as will have six big men (Leonard, Gasol, Cousins, Davis, Griffin and Green).

Only Green represents an argument as to whether or not he belongs and this doesn’t create much wiggle room or conversation as to who the final members of this Western Conference team should be. There are plenty of other players that deserve consideration for the game itself, and several of them will not make the team. Look at this list of players who could be fighting over two or three Western Conference All-Star roster spots:

  • Damian Lillard
  • Klay Thompson
  • Karl-Anthony Towns
  • Gordon Hayward
  • LaMarcus Aldridge

This doesn’t even allow a conversation over up-and-coming players like Rudy Gobert, Julius Randle, Victor Oladipo or C.J. McCollum. DeAndre Jordan is out if Gobert is and there won’t be seven players just from the Clippers and Warriors. That’s a ton of talent to snub, but it’s coming, just like it does every year, but this year it will be even worse.

Eastern Conference

The thing that really could throw the Eastern Conference rosters for a loop is if Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony are voted in as starters, something that would be not at all surprising considering voting trends over the last several years. Fans understandably love these guys, but they don’t necessarily deserve to start. In fact, both are bubble All-Stars, period, which means their appointment to the team could push out two other stud players that might have deserved the spots more.

In terms of starters outside of LeBron James, Jimmy Butler might be the next most-deserving player, with DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kyrie Irving and John Wall all likely to get plenty of votes to keep them in contention for a starting guard spot, too. In terms of other frontcourt players, Paul George, Hassan Whiteside, Paul Millsap and Kevin Love all should see big votes, too.

For those doing the math at home, that means the aforementioned players would represent 11 of the 12 spots on the Eastern Conference roster, leaving the following players to wrestle over the final spot:

  • Isaiah Thomas
  • Kemba Walker
  • Andre Drummond
  • Kristaps Porzingis
  • Dwight Howard
  • Derrick Rose

There are some huge names on that list of potential snubs, as well as some names of younger rising stars itching to get their first crack at the All-Star Game. Too many players are playing too well this year to be named one of the league’s 24 best players next month, which looks as though it will create some delightful controversy when it comes to time to talk about snubs and the final rosters.

Voting will end in January and those rosters will be announced shortly afterward. It’s impossible to know who will make the team for 2017, but we already have a very good sense of how many deserving players won’t make the team. It’s a shame in such a banner year for the league that some of these breakout kids will not get the recognition they deserve.

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About Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.